Local hospital marks completion of lab

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Attendees of a blessing and dedication ceremony for OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group’s new laboratory are pictured. This ceremony took place Friday morning.

ESCANABA — OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group celebrated the completion of construction on its new laboratory with a blessing and dedication ceremony Friday morning. The laboratory, which cost about $2.1 million in capital to complete, is expected to become operational next week.

“We’re glad to be able to do this … we’ve more than doubled the square footage of our existing lab here in this lab,” OSF St. Francis President Dave Lord said. Currently, OSF St. Francis’ laboratory runs more than 800,000 tests per year.

The laboratory’s manager, Mark Easterwood, said efforts to establish a new laboratory at OSF St. Francis have been ongoing for some time.

“We started this project in September of 2016,” he said. Demolition for the project began in January 2017, and construction on the new laboratory followed.

Lord said that OSF St. Francis made an effort to work with as many local contractors as possible for construction on this project.

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Father Emmett Norden, chaplain for OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group, sprinkles holy water throughout the hospital’s new laboratory Friday morning.

“It helps the entire community out economically as we engage in these projects,” he said.

At the beginning of Friday’s ceremony, Lord welcomed attendees and led an opening prayer. Vice President of Operations Kelly Jefferson went on to speak about the project.

“The opening of this new lab will provide (the) additional space needed to allow for workflows to flow more efficiently, and it will also give us the opportunity to add additional diagnostic services as needed,” she said.

After passages from the Bible were read, Father Emmett Norden — the hospital’s chaplain — led attendees in a concluding prayer and sprinkled holy water throughout the laboratory.

According to Easterwood, the new laboratory will bring significant improvements to OSF St. Francis.

“It’s going to bring increased capacity for lab testing and improved efficiency,” he said. This will allow for test results to be reported to physicians more quickly than before.

The new laboratory will make use of two Abbott ARCHITECT chemistry analyzers.

“They perform about 575,000 tests a year,” Easterwood said of these analyzers. Other analyzers in the new laboratory will include hematology, coagulation, and microbiology analyzers.

The process of moving equipment from OSF St. Francis’ current laboratory to the new laboratory will begin on Monday and will be complete by the end of the week. Services at the hospital will not be interrupted as a result of this process.